Apple reportedly has a plan to muscle Google Maps, the most-used application after iTunes, off its next-generation iPhone, the Wall Street Journal has reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
With the Apple-Google relationship souring, following Google's entry into the smartphone space with first the Android platformnow the market's top-shipping OSand more recently Google's acquisition of smartphone maker Motorola, Apple is said to have created its own mapping app.
It's now believed that Apple will show off the app at its Worldwide Developers Conference, which will begin June 11 in San Francisco.
In October, 9to5Mac and others reported that Apple had purchased the Swedish 3D mapping solutions company C3 Technologies. Spun out of the aerospace and defense company Saab AB in 2007, the company uses declassified missile targeting methods to create 3D maps.
While Googlecreating some controversy along the waybuilt up its mapping app by traveling just about every road in America taking pictures, C3, on its Website, explained that its "automated software and advanced algorithms" enable it to "rapidly assemble extremely precise 3D models, and seamlessly integrate them with traditional 2D maps, satellite images, street-level photography and user-generated images that together are forever changing how people use maps and explore the world."
Apple has given Google Maps tremendous distribution, thanks to gangbuster iPhone sales. Seemingly anticipating, if not knowing, that Apple is about to stop shipping its iPhones and iPads with the app preinstalled, Google held a news conference in San Francisco June 6 to show off an improved version of Google Maps. The app will soon include 3D maps of major cities, and a version will be available for using offline.
"I'm very proud of Google Maps services, and they are available basically on all devices and we will continue to make Google Maps services as widely available as possible," said Brian McClendon, vice president of engineering for Google Maps.
McClendon declined to confirm the reports that Apple will no longer natively install the Google app.
Piper Jaffray analysts Gene Munster and Douglas J. Clinton, in a June 6 research note, said whether or not Apple installs the Google app, Google will find a place on the iPhone.
"While it appears increasingly likely that Apple [will replace] Google Maps with its own mapping application in the next version of iOS, we believe Google Maps is likely to live on as a product in Apple's App Store," they wrote.
Google currently offers Gmail, Search, Google+, Google Translate and Google Earth in the App Store.
"Given Google's recent statement that 1 billion people use Google Maps per month, we believe it is possible that Maps as its own application in the App Store could be more popular than any of Google's other applications," Munster and Clinton added.
In a separate note the same day, the pair wrote that they expect Apple's iOS to generate approximately 2 percent of Google's net revenue in 2012, and that this estimate won't be affected by the introduction of an Apple mapping app. However, they do expect Google to become "more aggressive" in getting apps into the App Store, including Chrome.
Over the long term, they added, they expect iOS to become a significant platform for mobile advertising growth, and that Google will "find ways to participate" in those ad dollars.